28 November 2013

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

The last assignment for Lisa's class was to illustrate the story of, Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  We were given the text to break up however we liked, and to come up with two final spreads.

I work better when I have a "real" character in mind.  Goldilocks seems like a ready-made -- girl with blond tresses who stumbles upon the home of three bears.  BUT, what is a kid doing wandering through the forest and going into a stranger's house anyway?  After about a week of  percolating (yes, it does look like procrastinating), I had a possible angle.  Goldilocks is playing spy or detective à la Sherlock Holmes and Dick Tracy.  So now we have a motive for her snooping about, an alternative interpretation of her name, and a bright yellow outfit.  The bears came last, and they seem to work for this story.

Here are the final spreads in pen, ink, and watercolour on Stonehenge.

"Goldilocks came upon a cute cottage and went inside."

"There on the kitchen table were three bowls of porridge.
  Goldilocks was hungry."

The second spread is a total rip-off of my favourite illustrator, Jon Klassen.  This is from his collaboration on, The Dark, with Lemony Snicket.  I like how Klassen used the flashlight as a way to frame his composition, and to make the reader think about what is not shown beyond the beam of light.  In Snicket's story, the dark is an actual character and this device is also effective for framing the dialogue between Laszlo and the dark.  See how the narrator's words are at the top corner outside the beam of light, Laszlo's words are in the middle in light, and the dark speaks from the bottom in black.  Brilliant.

Jon Klassen's illustration from The Dark

Process-wise, this was a huge learning curve for me because I managed to work all the way from manuscript to dummy book and two final spreads.  It is essentially what an illustrator for picture books would be asked to submit.

This is the manuscript we were given.  I marked it into 14-15 spreads, which coincides with the standard for a 32-page picture book.  Also known as a signature, 8 sheets of paper are folded and stitched down the middle to give you 16 sheets, or 32 pages front and back.

Copyright © 2009 MightyBook, Inc.

Some will now go from marked-up manuscript to a 32-page storyboard or flat panel as explained on this site about storyboards.

I went straight to the dummy book instead, which is a rough mock-up of the 32-page picture book.  This was a revelation for me, not having worked this way before.  I had assumed that the dummy was a final product, rather than a great tool for figuring out the relationship between image and text, and the all important page turn.  I found that I was no longer working linearly when I had the dummy.  I would figure out a drawing for one line of text, and then flip to a page at the end or middle of the book and solve another drawing.  This is a much more dynamic way to work.

Stay tuned for video.


  1. I saw one of your comments on Jennifer Mann's blog, and I followed your comment here. Your work is beautiful!

    1. Thank you. And nice to meet you, Dawn.